All posts by Rodney Evans

The Subtlety of Glory: Part 1

RODNEY EVANS, PC14

The first element: a window. It is dark. The faint scent of cold coffee belonging to the elderly lady beside me hangs in the air. My legs are stiff and restless. I listen to the roaring hum of the plane that propels me comfortably through the air at about 570 mph. That’s when I look out the small plastic window beside me at the thick nocturnal blackness. I think. I think of the great gulf of space that now lies between my bed and my body. I ponder the vastitude of this world in which I live. The implications rush through my mind. There is a world beyond my community that exists not as a video feed displayed in a CNN broadcast, but as a massive web of communities, places, and people who are uniform in their humanity, and diverse in their needs. What do I owe them?

The second element: “Feijoada”. My stomach protests in hunger.  I sit at the unevenly oriented plastic table in front of me. A delicious variation of Feijoada steams before my nose as I lower it to pray. It is a stew-like dish comprised of sausages, onions, and black beans. As I raise my head from prayer, I see the smiling face of the mother who is so grateful to be serving the ones who came to serve her and her family. The irony slowly reconfigures my mind. What does it mean when someone can thank you for something that they are doing for you?

The third element: a tissue. I sit on the van riding back to my church with a throbbing headache. My throat aches with unquenchable soreness, and my breathing’s passage is restricted to my mouth. I retrieve a Kleenex tissue and blow my nose for relief. There is no relief. I realize however that I am still happy. This reality surprises me. It is now that I think of my faith. How glorious must Christ-centered joy be for it to push this malady into the realm of oblivion? I revel in my Spirit-wrought victory over egocentricity.

The Subtlety of Glory: Part 2

RODNEY EVANS PC’14

The “elements” in part one of this post, and others like them, are commonly found in any activity, whether it is a missionary trip, or a trip to Durefee’s. God has endowed creation with such intricate depth, that even the smallest of things can be used to communicate the most precious and profoundest of truths. Even the most profound topics can be explained through the most rudimentary of terms. It is only through this realization that we can begin to move to a more full vision of who God is. God doesn’t need to rely on physical, material, or fleshly grandeur to reveal his glory. God himself appeared in the form of a poor Jewish carpenter, only to die a criminal’s death on an obscure hill. And yet, this Man and this death are at the very core of universal reality and purpose.

Recent advances in scientific knowledge have actually caused our awe of the world around us to fracture. The wonder of Mt. Everest seems to dissipate in light of our theoretical awareness of the universe’s sheer immensity. This is because the created universe has become our “God” in a sense. The means by which “greatness” is defined is now only found in relation to the universe itself. Even human life is slowly being devalued in our society as it slips into the category of cosmic insignificance.

We must leave this false metric of value and return to a recognition of God as the locus of greatness, the locus of glory. In truth, it is the personal God, Yahweh Himself, by which we should measure the greatness and value of any and all things in existence. When we recognize this true King of Glory, the following things ensue:

  • A small flower in an unknown field can now be seen as a beautiful living thing which the Almighty God cares enough about to clothe in a splendor which surpassed King Solomon’s (Matt. 6:25).
  • A minuscule human embryo is now seen as the glorious creative spark of God’s sovereign creativity in the forming of an eternal human soul, purposed to image its Creator.
  • The salvation of only 3 souls in a decade long faithful ministry to an indigenous unreached people is not meaningless. Rather, it is a glorious display of God’s grace and power that any human rebel could finally surrender, and thus enjoy the wondrous inheritance found in Christ.
  • The immense, unfathomable outer universe and all its contents are not seen as the final objective “glory” of reality, but rather as a glorious (but still incomplete!) display of the greatness of the One who created it.

And thus, even the incarnation becomes feasible. An infinite God’s condescension to lowly human flesh, while infinitely gracious and mysterious, is not absurd. For how would He have come? Should the God of the universe have been adorned in a glorious light, or maybe in the form of a beautiful “king-like” man? For “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). There is nothing beautiful enough, nothing great enough, nothing immense enough in this world, to embody and fully display God in His fullness! And yet this Man, Jesus Christ, embodied the fullness of Deity. How? Because our metric for valuing Christ was not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Thus, it is only this understanding of creation’s incompleteness, which allows us to fully appreciate it in light of God’s purposes. Therefore, let us give up our false and unwarranted reverence for creation in order to embrace a true, and fully warranted reverence for a creation which carries our heats and minds to the courts of a glorious King.

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Lessons From The ER

RODNEY EVANS, PC’14

So it was the final week of my sophomore year in college. My final exams were scattered throughout the week and studying was not an “optional” task. I meticulously planned the way my week would go, allotting the appropriate amount of study time needed for each exam. As I sat down in the library planning my week on Sunday, I had no idea that I would be confined to a hospital bed, IV in arm, the night before my Saturday final. But God knew. As a Christian, I realize that there is nothing that can happen in my life which is outside of God’s control. For, as the scripture says, “all things work together for good ” in the life that truly belongs to Christ. That being said, there were a couple of simple, but grace-filled lessons I learned in my first ever stay at a hospital in probably the most inconvenient time of the year.

Lesson 1: I Am Mortal.

Yes, this seems obvious, and there is no way I would have denied this claim before this incident. But, there is a form of denial that does not consist merely of rational assent. We deny the truths we profess to believe every day by the way we live; or at least I do. For some reason, although I knew I was mortal, this belief did not affect the way I lived in the way that it should. The idea that any hour could be our last ought to have a tremendous effect on how we make decisions, and how we gauge the worth of pursuing a path that is pleasing to God. An awareness that within the next 60 minutes we could be standing before the throne of Yahweh should spark a vigilance and vigor in our fight to stay awake and not slip into the spiritually numbing vices of this world. As I contemplated the possibilities of my prognosis, I felt the weakness and frailty of the body I live in. I felt the pressing weight of my calling to properly steward the time and breath that remain with me.

Lesson 2: The World is Broken

Again, this reality was not foreign to me, but I did not know it previously in the way I do now. Observing the suffering of a hospital can be very disconcerting for some people. It is a place that represents a permanent reminder that suffering and death are constant realities in this world. Every moment of comfort we have is a moment of pain for someone else. And all the while, one cannot help but observe the ways in which sin and wickedness are many times directly tied to human suffering. Realizing these harsh realities helps Christians to develop a more firm and grounded theology since we cannot act as if God has no say in all of this. We are forced to harmonize the horrors of world suffering with our view of a gracious, all-powerful God. Romans 8:20 says that the Lord has “subjected the world to futility” because of sin, but he did this in “hope” that the creation would one day be liberated. The hideous reality of suffering is a gracious reminder that the world is broken in a more fundamental way. It is a world in rebellion to God. The pain of the world points to the truth that something is definitely wrong; this is not the way things should be. In the same way that one feels the pain that signals a health problem, the world is feeling the trauma that signals a spiritual problem. As salt of the earth, we must be aware of this reality, and serve as Christ’s ambassadors to proclaim the hope of spiritual healing and life through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Only then can the pain of this world be redeemed.

Lesson 3: The Lord is Abundantly Gracious

And yet, in spite of the immense suffering in this world, there is immense pleasure and goodness to be enjoyed as well. In order to see daily blessings as gracious, one must come to terms with what we all actually deserve. Because of our sin against an infinitely holy and righteous God, we all deserve damnation at this very moment. Any inkling of happiness, relief, peace, satisfaction, or rest is only a sign of God’s grace to undeserving sinners. With this understanding, it is quite easy to see God’s grace within the confines of a hospital. Seeing the varying levels of trauma and discomfort in others, helps one to thankfully acknowledge the many comforts of life we enjoy everyday. The ability to see, talk, walk, and hear are signs of God’s kindness to us who deserve nothing more than the torments of everlasting judgement. And yes, this language may sound harsh or even dramatic, but only because the truth is something which we all, in our sinfulness, would prefer to ignore.

These lessons do not have to be learned or gleaned only from a stay at the hospital of course. My experience there was unique to me, and was a means by which God woke me up a bit after dozing off within the comfortable confines of Yale. Regardless, we can all benefit from reminding ourselves of our mortality, the world’s suffering, and the grace of God in it all.